Facebook is working with US health organizations to offer a new Preventive Health tool that connects people to health resources and checkup reminders.
Facebook's initial focus is on the top two leading causes of death in the US: heart disease and cancer, (according to CDC) as well as the flu, a seasonal illness that affects millions each year. The resources available in the tool are provided by the American Cancer Society, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
In the US, people can search for Preventive Health in the Facebook mobile app and find out which checkups, such as cholesterol tests or mammograms, are recommended by these health organizations based on the age and sex they provide. Reminders for flu shots will also appear at the appropriate time of year.
The tool allows people to mark when tests are completed, set reminders to schedule future tests and tell loved ones about the tool to increase awareness of preventive care. People can also learn more about each checkup and find affordable places to receive care.
Most of the preventive measures recommended by the health organizations Facebook is working with, such as blood pressure tests, are free of charge with insurance coverage, but for those who do not have insurance, Preventive Health offers a way to find Federally Qualified Health Centers near them. These centers are located in underserved areas and provide care to everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.
People can also use Preventive Health to find convenient locations that offer flu shots, such as grocery stores, pharmacies and urgent care clinics.
Over time, Facebook will work with additional organizations to include more resources and expand to other countries.
Facebook also took some extra steps to protect your privacy and collect a limited amount of information necessary to make the tool function and improve it over time.
For example, Preventive Health allows you to set reminders for your future checkups and mark them as done, but it doesn’t provide Facebook, or the health organizations, access to your actual test results. Facebook says that Personal information about your activity in Preventive Health is not shared with third parties, such as health organizations or insurance companies, so it can’t be used for purposes like insurance eligibility.
In addition, Facebook doesn't show ads based on the information you provide in Preventive Health — that includes things like setting a reminder for a test, marking it as done or searching for a healthcare location. Other actions that you take on Facebook could inform the ads you see, for example, liking the Facebook page of a health organization or visiting an external website linked to from Preventive Health.
Facebook says that the tool will not give us access to your actual test results. If you choose, you can share the tool with your friends or family through Messenger or News Feed, but doing so will not share your activity within the tool.
Preventive Health uses your age and sex to suggest checkups recommended by health organizations. Your age and sex is based on your Facebook profile by default, but you can change these in the Preventive Health tool.
Facebook also logs more general activity, like frequency of clicks for a specific button, which allows the company to understand how the tool is being used, in order to improve it over time.